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UK MPs to debate banning Trump

Added on by Anealla Safdar.

British MPs are set to debate whether US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump should be banned from entering the UK, after a petition calling for him to be barred gathered more than 500,000 signatures.

The politicians will discuss the motion on Monday in the House of Commons and debate, for three hours, whether Trump should be prevented from the UK on account of what the 573,149 signatories called his "hate speech".

Having received more than 100,000 signatures, the petition had to be considered for debate by parliament under British law, and requires a written government response.

"The UK has banned entry to many individuals for hate speech," the petition read. "The same principles should apply to everyone who wishes to enter the UK. 

"If the United Kingdom is to continue applying the 'unacceptable behaviour' criteria to those who wish to enter its borders, it must be fairly applied to the rich as well as poor, and the weak as well as powerful."

The campaign was launched in response to a call made by the 69-year-old presidential hopeful to ban Muslims from entering the US until, in his words, "our country's representatives can figure out what is going on" - a thinly veiled reference that Muslims were responsible for terrorism.

Suzanne Kelly, who launched the petition, said on Friday: "However the debate goes (and I never thought it would get this far), increasing mistrust and fuelling hatred are not going to solve the problems of terrorism, and violent fanaticism - which every sane person condemns."

Writing on her Facebook page, she added: " Win or lose, that so many people from so many backgrounds came together to speak out against hate speech is a source of great happiness to me."

The UK parliament will also debate a far less popular petition, which argued against the ban on Trump, and only gathered 42,593 signatures.

After Trump made his anti-Muslim comments, the British Prime Minister David Cameron said that while they were unsavoury, he did not support a ban.

Jocelyn Howorth, an associate at the immigration law specialist Westkin Associates, told Al Jazeera: "If it was someone else, I think it [the ban] could happen."

The solicitor added that she expects the issue to "fizzle out quickly" once the debate is over.

"Realistically, the UK Home Secretary Theresa May can't ban a US presidential candidate without massive repercussions. I don't think that will happen."

The Trump Organization, the company owned by the presidential hopeful, said in a statement earlier this month that a ban would result in the conglomerate pulling developments and investments it claimed are worth 700 million pounds ($998 million) from Scotland.

"Westminster would create a dangerous precedent and send a terrible message to the world that the United Kingdom opposes free speech," said the statement.

Howorth added that even if parliament agrees that the former reality television star should be banned from entering the UK, May would have to make the final decision.

Trump's comments, she said, amount to hate speech.

"The result of [the comments] is so hugely discriminatory towards one group of people that they do amount to hate speech. Other people have been refused entry for similar reasons.

"We are entitled to freedom of speech, but where that incites hatred, that is not allowed."

Published on Al Jazeera on 16th January, 2016